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New Creation Healing Center: A Convergence of Whole-Person Ministry

If you had the good fortune of driving through Kingston, New Hampshire, on some bright fall day you might have the good fortune of noticing a boxy 18th Century type building with a fenced “widow’s walk” on top. This recently build structure is the meeting, workshops and events building to a truly remarkable organization, New Creation Healing Center (NCHC).[1] This Christian ministry is consciously modeled after the healing homes established by the pioneers of the Christian healing revival in the early 20th Century such as Dr. Charles Cullis, Dorothea Trudel, and Dorothy Kerin.[2] Like those healing homes, NCHC mixes healing prayer with the best of contemporary medical practices. The NCHC meeting building also serve as a local parish church, Trinity Church, with Sunday and multiple med-week worship services. To be clear, NCHC and Trinity Church, headed by Canon Pearson are legally distinct entities that share the same grounds.

Dr. Mary and Canon Pearson
Image: Kristin Smith, used by permission

Canon Mark Pearson and his wife, Dr. Mary, founded the NCHC in Plaistow, New Hampshire, in 1994 to serve the spiritually barren New England area. Mary was trained as an Osteopathic physician, and is the leader of the NCHC medical team, which now includes two nurse practitioners, counselors and other staff. Mark is the CEO and spiritual director of the center, leading Spirit-filled healing prayers and pastoral care at Trinity Church.

Canon Mark is a priest and canon of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC), one of the first of several “convergence” churches with an Anglican accent. That is, a church that attempts to unite historic liturgical and sacramental practices, the Evangelical love of Scripture and proclamation of the Gospel, and a Pentecostal appreciation and exercise of the gifts of the Spirit.

Mark Pearson was born and raised in the Boston area, received his undergraduate education in state at Williams College, and then an M.A. in theology from Oxford University (1973). He returned to the U.S. where he studied for the priesthood at Virginia Seminary and was ordained an Episcopal priest (1975). Fr. Pearson spent twenty years an Episcopal priest at several Episcopal churches.

Besides parish duties, he occupied much of his time attempting to bring biblical orthodoxy back to the Episcopal Church. He co-founded the Institute of Christian Renewal (ICR) in 1980 for that purpose.[3] Mark traveled extensively throughout the United States and worked with individual parishes and several Episcopal organizations, such as “Episcopalians United” and “Acts 29” to confront the growing apostasy of their denomination. The ICR continues to this day, headquartered out of the New Creation Healing Center, and like Trinity Church, legally distinct.

Fr. Pearson also taught healing courses and workshops at numerous churches, wrote multiple articles for Charisma as well as Sharing magazine, and taught a course on healing at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, an Episcopal seminary noted for its orthodoxy and traditionalism. Among the churches he influenced in regards to the healing ministry was Falls Church Anglican, highlighted in a previous article, where in 2001 he led a three day “mission” to teach and model healing prayer.[4] Mark also authored a major work on the Christian healing ministry that has an accent on the sacramental aspects of healing.[5]

Here is an example of a truly miraculous healing his prayer team prayed for back in 2004, witnessed by Mrs. Susan Gilbert:

About four years previously, I fell and broke my kneecap in three places. At that time the surgeon removed 2/3 of the kneecap, and tied the quadriceps to a hole drilled in the remaining small piece. As I was prying with the prayer team, there were some unusual movements below the knee and my quadriceps muscle went into spasms. I looked at it and discovered I appeared to have a whole kneecap!
I called Dr. Mary Pearson over, who examined both knees and found no difference between them. God graciously restored the knee to its proper shape … I can now kneel on the hard floor and I can even dance. I am more determined than ever to make sure lots of people know about God’s graciousness and healing power.[6]

However, the Episcopal Church and the UK and Canadian Anglican churches have been long plagued by divisions and separations starting at least as far back as the 1800s. The first of these splits related to liturgical and theological changes back in 1873, when the Reformed Episcopal Church left the Episcopal Church. In the 1960s, other churches also broke off from the Episcopal Church. These splits were mostly due in part to the liberal and even apostate drift in the Episcopal Church. For example, the “Death of God” theology of the 1960s, which was glamorized Deism, the heresy that God does not really interact with the church, and prayer is a psychological process that does not impact reality, etc.[7] Later, liberation theology gained a strong following in Episcopal seminaries and clergy. That theological movement glamorized Marxism and revolution, and did much damage in Latin America. The churches that split off in the 1960s are called “continuing churches” and most often are liturgical traditionalists, mostly using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (not the 1979 version) and the 1940s hymnal. They all rejected the idea of ordaining women to the priesthood. There were several major continuing church groups, with different breaking points when they could no longer cross another line into heresy and wanted nothing more to do with the Episcopal hierarchy or seminaries.

As an Episcopal priest, Fr. Pearson took an interest in the developing Convergence movement. Even before he joined the CEC he was asked by Bishop Adler, founder and presiding bishop of the CEC, to be a CEC theological advisor. In fact, Bishop Adler at times has referred various times to Canon Mark Pearson as one of the co-founders of the CEC.

Pearson’s denomination, the CEC, and the other convergence denominations are relatively new, and do not consider themselves “continuing” denominations. These churches were founded in the 1990s by non-Anglican, Pentecostal and Vineyard pastors who loved the Episcopal liturgy but were appalled at what was going on in Episcopal seminaries, and would not submit to an unorthodox hierarchy.[8]

Bishop Adler, a Vineyard pastor for many years, established the CEC based on the idea of convergence (like Falls Church Anglican, he preferred the term “three streams” theology). Pastor Adler received a laying on of hands and ordination as Bishop (with Apostolic succession) by being ordained by Bishops from the Old Catholic Church, a group that separated from Roman Catholicism in the 1870s over the doctrine of Papal infallibility. He immediately brought in several congregations from California, and assumed that the growth of his denomination would be slow and steady. But in 1992 an article appeared in Ministries Today, an important Pentecostal/charismatic publication, which highlighted the CEC.[9] Bishop Adler received a flood of inquires and application from dissatisfied Episcopal priests, and Pentecostal ministers who wanted a liturgical structure added to their Pentecostalism.[10] CEC experienced very rapid expansion after this. In the last decades it had some “bumps along the road” which limited its further expansion, and in fact produced a contraction of churches and membership in the United States, but continued to grow overseas. However, that is a complex story to be told elsewhere.

In regard to Canon Pearson, after participating in CEC functions for two years, he and his wife left the Episcopal Church and were received into the CEC (1995). In his newsletter, Mark explained why he left the Episcopal Church where he had served faithfully for two decades.

Basic doctrines and moral teachings of historic Christianity are often denied or even ridiculed by church leaders. The phrases “inclusivity” and “a church in which there are no outcasts” are used by the liberal establishment, but many of the practices they are including are directly ruled out by Scripture.

The liberalism is so entrenched that the fight would have to be fierce. Many people do not have the disposition to fight. I’d rather spend the rest of my ministry proclaiming the Gospel, not dissipating my energy fighting.[11]

Mary Pearson is an osteopathic physician (DO). That is, a doctor with all the rights, privileges and training of an MD, but with slightly different focus of medical practice. The DO strives to be holistic in approach, using fewer medications, and spending more time with the patient to discern what emotional factors may be contributing to the patient’s disease. Dr. Pearson oversees all medical and therapeutic staff of the NCHC. She screens and interviews all medical and therapeutic applicants, and in addition to their professional credentials, she asks applicants for a statement of faith. Under the Pearson’s there will be no slide into medical secularism as happened to Dr. Cullis’s healing homes.

Dr. Pearson did not immediately take to mixing medical practice and prayer, at least not publicly, but came to it in stages. Let me cite her own words on an early case:

PG Was a 60-year-old alcoholic in recovery for few years. She had had a ventral hernia repaired previously with mesh, and came into my office after being sick for several days. It was immediately obvious she was seriously ill, dehydrated, and septic. I immediately admitted her to the hospital, and consulted surgery for her very distended abdomen. The surgeon took her to the OR, and found severe bowel necrosis (her intestines were rotting), and removed as much tissue as they could and sent her to the ICU.
The surgeons did not feel she had much hope for recovery, she was in acute renal failure, her general health was not great because of her previous medical history, and because she had delayed getting in to see me the infection had spread throughout her body.
I was still a little bit anxious about praying with my patients, and very anxious about what other healthcare providers would think about it! So I went to see her in the ICU, and examined her very thoroughly, waiting for the nurse to leave.
However her situation was so unstable that the nurse remained in the room, constantly adjusting fluids, and responding to her needs. I had been at the hospital for a long time that day, and was exhausted and needed to go home. However, I felt the pull of the Holy Spirit on my heart pray for her despite my fears. She was unconscious, so I spoke to her, using her name, (in front of the nurse! I was terrified), and prayed simply that God would heal her.
I really did not have very much faith (fortunately Jesus tells us we only need to have mustard seed sized faith) and anticipated a poor outcome. However, the next day I came in to see her, and the nurse, ( a different nurse than the one I had seen the previous night) told me she had had a quiet night, and her vital signs were now stable, and her kidney functions were almost back to normal! Much to everybody’s surprise she made a full recovery and lived many more years.
Another nice thing about this: the nurse who saw me pray for her later took me aside and said she was very impressed by the fact that I was willing to pray for my patients, and by how much the patient improved.

Later, when her confidence in medicine and prayer had increased:

A 7-year-old boy and his mother came in to see me. He had a very high fever and a stiff neck. He was lethargic, not his usual active self. Mom told me that he had been very sick over the last few days, she was very anxious about medical care, and did not want to take him to the emergency room as was my recommendation. I was concerned about the possibility of meningitis. I thought he needed a spinal puncture, blood work, and urgent IV antibiotics. She did consent to an injection of antibiotics, but I knew that this would not have enough of an effect if this really was meningitis.
By this time it was my custom to pray for all my patients if they would allow it. So I laid hands on him and asked God to heal him.
I planned to call mom later that afternoon, to see how he was doing, and to try to encourage her to take him to the emergency room. However, she called me back within an hour, and said you must have given him “something magical in that shop” because he was completely better and his fever was gone by the time I got him home! I explained to her that the antibiotic would take at least a few hours to start taking effect, but she remained convinced that the injection had cured her son. I tried to explain otherwise, to no avail; but this showed me how God is willing to work without recognition, simply because He loves us so much.

We have room enough to cite one more of her cases:

“MG” was an 80-year-old woman with severe osteoarthritis of her left hip. She had not done well with anti-inflammatory medications, but really wanted to avoid surgery. We discussed all her options and decided that we would send her to Orthopedics for cortisone injection. She was a little reluctant about this, and concerned about side effects.
Before she left, we prayed together, and asked Jesus to heal her hip. We scheduled a follow-up visit a month later. When she returned her pain was completely gone. I asked about how the visit with the orthopedist went. She looked at me reproachfully and said “I did not need to go, the prayer worked.” She was never bothered with this hip pain again.

The Meeting House
Image: Kristin Smith, used by permission

Besides Dr. Pearson, the NCHC has two nurse practitioners, a massage therapist, and counselors, all of whom combine prayer with their disciplines. It is intertwined, but legally distinct from Trinity Church, under Canon Pearson, who does Sunday and mid-week services at its meeting house. Sunday services are “convergent,” for instance, inviting the congregation to manifest the gifts of the Spirit such as tongues and prophecy during the praise songs segment of the services.

Trinity Church has a women’s Bible study, and men’s group, just like most churches. There is a mid-week healing service with the laying on of hands and regular sessions for inner healing prayer, which is an important element of the ministry at both Trinity Church and NCHC. There are specialized teaching days or weekend classes, co-sponsored with the NCHC, for instance “Finishing Life Well” or “Growing in God,” which deal with specialized issues more deeply than a Sunday sermon can.

At Trinity, there are several activities that would be unusual in most churches. Several times a week there is a period of gardening on the NCHC grounds where volunteers, under the direction of a master gardener, help grow food crops that are distributed to the local food pantry. On the third Friday of the month there is something called “Crafty Afternoons” where persons come in with craft projects to work on and fellowship with others of similar interests – a great idea not common in churches, but should be.[12]

As the NCHC grows in reputation people come from all over the United to be healed and prayed for at NCHC. I can’t help but feel that Dr. Cullis and Dorothy Kerin are both looking down from heaven, joyfully praying for its continued success and growth. It is a difficult pattern to emulate, demanding just the right personnel, yet doable to those inspired and called to this type of Christian holistic ministry. My own dream is that every large diocese in America would make an effort to establish and fund institutions such as the NCHC.

 

PR

 

Notes

[1] Similarly in Colonial times the “meeting house” was used for government business on week days and church services on Sunday. The NCHC webpage: http://newcreationhc.org

[2] For a description of the first American “healing home” see my description of Dr. Cullis’ ministry in my, Quenching the Spirit (Lake Mary: Creation House, 1996) chapter 9.

[3] ICR’s webpage is at: https://christianrenewal.wordpress.com/

[4] On Falls Church Anglican see my article “Falls Church Anglican: The Long March to Healing Excellence,” Pneuma Review. Posted April 19, 2020. http://pneumareview.com/the-falls-church-anglican-the-long-march-to-healing-ministry-excellence/

[5] Mark Pearson, Christian Healing: A Practical and Comprehensive Guide (Lake Mary: Creation House, 2004).

[6] Adapted from the ICR newsletter, June/July 2006, p.3.

[7] In my work, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions, I documented that the Death of God’s most prolific and celebrated theologian, Thomas J. J. Altizer, was demonically possessed from the beginning of his theological career, see pp. 294-295.

[8] In fact, the CEC does not consider itself an Anglican denomination, but entirely distinct, but its Anglican style of worship and hierarchy would convince most observers that it is at least an Anglican type of church. “If it quacks like a duck…”

[9] Paul Thigpen, “Ancient Altars, Pentecostal Fire,” Ministries Today (Nov/Dec 1992), 43-51.

[10]A telling personal story: In 1992, I was in the Episcopal Church and in a prayer group of a wholly orthodox Episcopal church, St. Jude’s of Marietta, Georgia. The prayer group leader, David, felt a vocation to the priesthood and had an interview about this with the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta. The Bishop told him that he was not the type of candidate he wanted as he was “male, white and too orthodox” in his beliefs. A month after that calamitous interview I read the Ministries Today piece on the CEC and handed it to David. He wrote to Bishop Adler, and after going through the online seminary was ordained a CEC priest, and founded a small but enthusiastic CEC Church.

[11]Mark Pearson, “A Note From the President,” ICR Newsletter (Jan. 1995), 2. See a very similar statement by a long-time Episcopal layman, Art Benning “Why I Left the Episcopal Church,” Acts 29 (Feb., 1995), 12.

[12] Prof. Glenn Clark, the founder of the CFO had a similar idea that was practiced in his summer retreats. He called them “creatives,” and they included painting, poetry writing, drama skits, and other items not normally common to church programs. Recently an article appeared in Christianity Today describing the spiritual side of doing a hobby: Brianne Lambert, “Worship God: Start a Hobby,” Christianity Today, Jan. 16, 2020. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-web-only/work-sabbath-worship-god-start-hobby.html

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2020

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook AnglicalPentecostal.blogspot.com

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